Son of Frederick William and Annie Dalby of North Street,
Morris was born at Wetherby in 1896 to parents Frederick, a self employed Cab Proprietor and Coachman,
assisted in the business by his wife, Annie, whose occupation is listed as that of a Coach Builder.
The 1911 Census
records that Morris, aged 15 years, is attending school, an analysis of various sources would indicate however at this
period the Dalby family were running a successful family business located near the Swan & Talbot Hotel.
Morris attested for service at Wetherby Town Hall on or about
the 31st August 1914. The terms of enlistment were a Short Service obligation, i.e. three years with the Colours however it
was stated that if the War lasted longer than three years, the recruit would be retained until the cessation of hostilities.
the men waited to enlist, Army protocol dictated that had the prospective recruit received Notice and understood its meaning
and who gave the Notice to them. On confirmation by the potential recruit, Army Form B. 2065 was first signed by Rowland Meyrick,
the issuer of the Notice before recruitment could commence. The latter had proved to be very brisk, principally due to the
efforts of a number of individuals, but it was Mr. Rowland Meyrick of Hall Orchards, a Land Agent for the Montague estates,
that was the major protagonist encouraging many a young Wetherby man to "take the King's shilling."
newspaper article dated September 1914 provides an insight as to his activities as an unpaid Recruitment Officer:
and night he worked with the greatest enthusiasm and wherever young men were, in the cottage, in the harvest field and street,
there he was to be found, exercising his persuasive powers and the young men answered nobly his call.
men at first however, had their reservations on joining the Colours;
One young fellow, anxious to enlist,
was troubled about throwing up his work and he went to Mr. Meyrick. Would he guarantee him work when he returned home? The
answer was thoroughly satisfactory, and the young fellow is probably now clad in khaki. That is the way to get recruits."
Concerns prior to enlistment were also raised for the soldiers dependants, therefore, Wetherby
Steeplechase Committee made the following offer both to stimulate and encourage recruitment. A further newspaper article dated
September 1914 declared:
"The Wetherby Steeplechase Committee have announced that they
will give 1 shilling a week each to the wives of men who have joined the Colours, and any others volunteering in the town,
in order to augment the Army allowance while they are on service."
Agreeing that he now
understood the terms of his engagement, Morris now declared that all his answers to questions declared on the Army Form were
true and that he was willing to fulfill the engagements made. On signing the document, it was witnessed by John McEvitt, a
former soldier who had served with the 1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers and a veteran of the Boer War. Former Colour Sergeant
McEvitt in civilian life, was the Caretaker of the Conservative Club located in the Market Place, who, although recorded in
the 1911 Census as an Army Pensioner, fulfilled the roll of Acting Recruitment Sergeant.
A preliminary medical examination
was now conducted by Lieutenant Harry Winstanley Shadwell of the Royal Army Medical Corps to determine vital statistics; height,
weight, vision and expansion of the chest. Deemed 'fit' as the vast majority of men were at this early stage of enlistment,
the final signature that would approve the man for military service was that of the Approving Officer, 14th Recruiting Area,
Colonel Harold P. Ditmas, late Durham Royal Garrison Artillery (Militia). That final signature would witness over forty-five
recruits from the locality joining the ranks of the fledgeling 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, the first
service battalion of the Regiment to be raised as a response to the outbreak of the Great War.
In the first week
of September, the men prior to leaving for the Regimental Depot located at York, were entertained to a dinner by the townsfolk
of Wetherby. After the event and bidding their farewells, the men of 'Kitchener's Army' were conveyed to York
in a fleet of motor-cars, one could surmise that some were even possibly from Dalby's Motors. As the men departed the
town in what was described as "much scenes of jubilation and enthusiasm," for many this would be the last
time that they would ever return home to their loved ones.
training ensued for the recruits from Wetherby at the Regimental Depot where they became accustomed to the vagaries of life
in the British Army. Possibly the first blow to patriotic 'fervour' was the issuing of a Serial Number to each man,
an individual in civilian life but now a number throughout his service in the Army. It is of interest to note that the numbers
issued to the recruits from Wetherby follow no alphabetical sequence as is sometimes the case. An analysis therefore conducted
of this specific batch of numbers issued reveals that proceeding Morris the number 11987 was issued to Private William Cook.
William, a native of York, was not to witness any overseas service with the 9th Battalion but was posted to the 10th Battalion,
West Yorkshire Regiment, on the 3rd August 1915, and was unfortunately killed in action on the 1st July 1916 at Fricourt during
the commencement of the Battle of the Somme. The number issued following on from Morris was allocated to Private John S. Prince.
Of John, no direct link to Wetherby can be found at present but surviving records confirm that he did perform service overseas
with the 9th Battalion at Gallipoli and would survive the War.
York at this juncture with the
Depot processing more men that had answered the 'Call to Arms' was now fit to bursting point with men. Therefore a
move to larger training facilities at Belton Park, Grantham, was initiated in September by the 9th West Yorkshire's where
they were joined by the remainder of the Brigade.
Following this movement, a second medical examination, more thorough
than the Primary Military Examination that had taken place on Attestation was carried out in mid October. many men from Wetherby
were discharged due to either being found medically unfit with ailments ranging from chronic bronchitis to a hernia, or, a
lack of general ability. These men in Army 'parlance' were "Discharged not being likely to become an efficient
soldier," their departure being confirmed by the Adjutant, Captain Alexander Geary-Smith.
of Army Pension Records reveal that of the men who enlisted at Wetherby Town Hall in August, 6 were medically discharged who
had a direct link to the town in addition to one man from Kirk Deighton. Some of these discharged men would eventually serve
in some military capacity as the War progressed.
The winter of 1914 and the spring of 1915 were
most notably wet resulting in the camp at Belton turning into a veritable quagmire. By the end of February, all ranks had
been issued 1914 Pattern Equipment, made under contract in the United States and despite the weather, training proceeded apace
with the usual musketry drills, marching discipline etc.
By late March orders had been issued warning of an impending
move away from Lincolnshire. On the 5th April 1915, the 9th West Yorkshire's in Brigade, were ordered to entrain at Rugby,
the destination being Witley Camp, near Godalming, Surrey. Leaving Belton Park on this date, the Brigade proceeded by route
of march via Scalford, Thrussington and Whetstone reaching Rugby on the 8th. Here the Brigade entrained during the following
day after an eventful march. An account of this may be found in the Green Howards In The Great War by H.C. Wylly.
'The Optimist' as he is referred to in the account writes:
on Wednesday took us through Leicester where the Division was accorded a really wonderful reception; all work was suspended
and the streets were lined by an enthusiastic and cheering multitude who showered all kinds of gifts on the troops."
Settling into their new surroundings 'The Optimist' remarked that the change
of weather and that of the scenery was most welcome. He also noted that the extensive heathland and commons so characteristic
of the area proved more conducive for military manoeuvres as the men were about to experience.
The camp consisted
at this stage of the War primarily of tented accommodation with a few huts but the camp would rapidly expand and become more
permanent as the conflict progressed.
On the 1st May the 11th (Northern) Division played host to
two distinguished visitors, namely, His Majesty the King who was also accompanied by Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for
War. After inspecting the men, the following Divisional Order was issued:
the King has desired the G.O.C. to convey to the troops his appreciation of the splendid appearance and steadiness of the
men on parade yesterday. His Majesty also remarked on the good condition of the horses. Finally His Majesty said to the G.O.C.,
"It has been a very great pleasure to me to see such a splendid body of men, and I desire you to so inform the troops."
in the month the Battalion had also witnessed a change in command when Colonel Frend was replaced by another officer from
the 3rd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel John O'Brien Minogue. An experienced officer who had risen
through the ranks, Minogue had served with a variety of regiments during the course of his service career however the Colonel
did possess an affiliation to the West Yorkshire Regiment dating back to 1893.
Towards the end of June there must
have been rumours of an impending move to active service circulating as the American equipment previously issued to the men
was replaced by the British made 1908 pattern webbing. Suspicions were no doubt aroused further when all the men were issued
with khaki drill and helmets of the 'Foreign Service' variety, the latter also referred to as the 'Pagri.'
Morris and the men of the West Yorkshire's were soon to have their suspicions confirmed when orders were issued
to the 32nd Infantry Brigade at 3 p.m. on the afternoon of the 31st June to prepare for entrainment the following day, destination,
as yet unknown to the men, was to be the Dardanelles.
For a comprehensive account of the actions
of the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment during the Dardanelles Campaign the reader may wish to follow this link: